Monday, February 01, 2016

  • Monday, February 01, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
We've written in the past about Magda Haroun, the 63-year old head of Egypt's almost extinct Jewish community.

In an interview late last year, she shows again that no matter how much she is hated, she will always be loyal to Egypt:
With the growing nationalism in 1956, the situation became more difficult for the Egyptian Jews. President Jamal Abdel Nasser started a mass expulsion of Egyptian Jews in which some Jews were issued one-way travel documents, while others were stripped of their property and pressured to leave the country. Several Jews were arrested and Jewish businesses were seized by the government. Jewish bank accounts were confiscated and many Jews lost their jobs.

The few hundred that stayed after this campaign were subjugated to a serious crackdown in 1967. They were given the choice of leaving Egypt or remaining in prison. Most of them went straight to the airport, but Madga Haroun’s family was one of those very few who decided to stay. She was 15 in 1967, and her father was arrested along with all Jewish males between the ages of 18 and 60. “My father was Egyptian, and he did not do anything wrong. He shouldn’t have left and I am happy we stayed.”
She is happy that she stayed in a country that arrested her father for the crime of being Jewish. And she is now considered a leader of the community!
Haroun, her sisters and a few other women in the community ended up marrying non-Jews. “There were no male Jews left to marry,” Haroun says with a cynical smile, but, she continues “my first husband was a Muslim, and so are my daughters. My current husband is a Catholic, so in a way, we are the only house in Egypt where the three religions are living under one roof.”

Haroun herself is not particularly religious and she did not raise her daughters to be religious but she did ensure they learned about all three religions equally. They didn’t really have problems growing up with a Jewish mother, except when Haroun’s father died. “My daughters went to a French school, and nobody asked any questions until my father died. People started reading about it in media, so the parents of the students at school were aware that my daughter’s mom is Jewish. One day, she came to me and told me she hates me. I asked her why. She said, because you’re a Jewish whore.” ...

Many Egyptians are not aware that there is a Jewish community in Egypt, or that there ever was. “Sometimes when I say ‘our – or my – country’ during media interviews, the host will ask which country I mean. Can you believe it?” Haroun said that she is always faced with people thinking that she is Israeli, although she speaks Egyptian and has lived in Egypt all her life.

But Haroun recognizes this as mere ignorance, not antagonism.
Haroun has done everything that a good dhimmi should do: married a Muslim, raised daughters as Muslim, shown loyalty to the Muslim rulers even when they arrest her (anti-Zionist) father for being Jewish. And then there was this incident that I wrote about in 2013:
In 1954, Magda's older sister Mona became sick with leukemia. Mona was 4 years old at the time. Magda says that her father, Chehata, was crazy about Mona; the only treatment available in Egypt for the disease was blood transfusions and Chehata gave as much blood as he could.

Things got worse, and doctors told him that the only way tosave Mona's life was to travel to France to receive treatment there.

Egyptian authorities told Chehata that, as a Jew, he would not be allowed to return to Egypt if he took Mona out of the country.

He refused to accept that he could never go home again. And Mona died.
This is the country she is loyal to. To the end.

And her love of her Jewish heritage? Well, it has limits:
Her biggest concern is their heritage. There are 12 Synagogues in Egypt, 10 of which are under the umbrella of the Ministry of Antiquities, in addition to a vast amount of Torah scrolls and records. “We cannot practice our religion because there are no rabbis,” she says. When her sister died last year, Haroun had to invite a rabbi from France. “During holidays, we get together, cook and invite friends over. I am 63 years old and I am the youngest. We are seven old women, who are not very demanding, but we do not want to lose our heritage.”

Haroun has asked for help many times, and many International Jewish organizations have offered help, “but help always came with a price,” she says with a note of desperation. Most of the organizations wanted to take the scrolls and records. “These scrolls are Egyptian heritage and should stay in Egypt, as part of its diverse history. There is no way I am going to let them out of my country.”
One nation did offer to help. I mentioned in another 2013 article about Haroun, where she said that she will refuse Israeli offers of financial help for the renovation of Egypt's ancient Jewish synagogues.

The only nation in the region that would accept her as a full and equal citizen, and the only one that could adequately safeguard Egypt's extinct Jewish heritage, is the one that she refuses to accept help from, instead begging Egyptians who have abused her family for decades for help.

Jews need to realize that the only way to get respect from Arabs is by respecting themselves. We can see the results of Magdy Haroun's opposite approach, even if she is blind to it herself.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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